Paddock To Plate

Your Guide to Dorpers and Saltbush Lamb

Why buy Saltbush & Dorpers Lamb over regular lamb? Learn more about this delicious cut of meat from the experts.

Jamie McTaggart is a fifth generation livestock producer. He discovered the Dorper’s while he was trailing small mobs of commercial shedding sheep in 1997.

The Dorper’s are non-shedding, and because of their hardy nature, they’re able to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions. 

The commercial lambs are bred north of Port Augusta in the heart of South Australia’s pristine saltbush country. Here are some fun facts:

  • The Dorper sheep was developed in South Africa in the 1930’s by cross breeding Blackhead Persian ewes with a Dorset Horn ram. 
  • The breed was introduced into Australia in 1996 and was specifically bred for the harsh environment in South Africa, which is very similar to Australia.
  • Dorper sheep have no wool, so don’t need shearing, so are farmed much like cattle.
  • Dorper’s are polyoestrus, meaning they can breed continually with no defined season.
  • Dorper graze entirely on native pasture, including saltbush (approx. 25-30% of their diet)
  • It is physically impossible for the Dorper’s to eat Saltbush solely as their bodies would not be able to process that amount of salt.
  • As a result, they have a unique and sought after flavour and are ‘seasoned on the hoof’.
  • Meat from sheep which have grazed on saltbush has high levels of vitamin E and iron.


  • Satlbush is an Australian native plant.
  • As its name suggests, saltbush has a high salt content.
  • Saltbush is common in deserts and salty environments.
  • Like the Dorper, Saltbush can also survive in the harshest environments from frost to extreme heat.
  • Saltbush needs minimal water but can cope well in most soils, including saline country and flood plains.

The nuts and bolts of farming

  • Every fortnight Jamie and his team process between 400-600 lambs for overseas markets and about 300 for Adelaide and Darwin markets.
  • They take them straight out of the paddock in South Australia and NSW.
  • Lambs are processed at 6 – 9 months old and weigh around 50kgs (24kgs dress weight).
  • Jamie produces a slightly heavier carcass than other lamb found on the domestic market (18-20kg.) They do a 22-24 kg. This is due to their diet and the conditions they are farmed on. 
  • They are not shorn or crutched and do not have chemicals used for lice and fly protection applied to them. Nor are they tail stripped.
  • Giving maximum returns for little inputs in terms of labour, resources and money has made these sheep extremely popular.

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